Beginner guitarists will often ignore their right-hand to concentrate on all the activity in the left. Yet the picking hand holds the keys to a variety of textures and styles. This breakdown of different picking techniques will allow you to learn many of those textures and then incorporate them into your guitar playing.
It's the very first one everybody learns. Using your pick we stroke straight down, toward the ground, and allow it to come to rest against the following guitar string (referred to as a "rest stroke"). Make certain that you do not pick out away from the guitar and into thin air. This results in a much longer distance to get to your next note and there is a greater possibility that you're going to come back to the incorrect string. Employing the rest stroke helps the pick to move in a finite space each time, training your muscles to come back correctly for the following note.
A double stroke is simply alternating downstrokes and upstrokes. It's most often used for eighth notes and faster. Though every so often you'll use all downstrokes for eighth notes based on how much aggression your song needs. Just as with the downstroke, you need your pick to travel straight back upwards, not away into thin air. To accomplish this, make sure you are moving sideways at your wrist but not rotating your lower arm at the elbow. Be certain you are alternating: down - up - down - up. You will discover picking styles which will occasionally repeat a down or up motion, but you should learn this even double picking first so that you do not develop undesirable habits.
This picking method is employed for fast arpeggio runs. This involves stringing together all downstrokes or all upstrokes on adjacent guitar strings in order to play a speedy series of notes. Think of it this way: Get a barre chord and, instead of a normal strum, pick through each one of the guitar strings with a down stroke all in one smooth movement towards the ground. And then do the very same using up strokes. The most important difference will come in your left hand. For a sweep picked melody your left-hand isn't going to hold down all the notes simultaneously, only one at a time, just like a typical single note line. The big aim at this point will be to produce clean articulation between your notes rather than letting them ring together. All while using this smooth single movement in your right-hand.
This isn't a skill that everybody really needs, but it is an outstanding tool for your guitar player tool box. It could also be used in a less difficult way, for just two or three notes as opposed to a giant flurry.
Musicians to listen to: Yngwie Malmsteen, Herman Li (of Dragonforce), and Frank Gambale.
This approach requires putting your pick away altogether and only employing your fingertips. It's predominant in classical music and various folk and world music genres, but could be used for nearly anything you'd like. Usually, the thumb would handle the lower two or three strings and your second, 3rd, and 4th fingers are going to manage the top three strings. You may also experiment with a rest stroke, which will be similar to the picking concept previously mentioned where the finger tip comes to rest against the next string. Or you can use a free stroke where the finger finishes its movement hovering above the strings. Free strokes are usually used for chord arpeggios where you wish the notes to ring against one another. Rest strokes are used for melodies where you want cleaner articulation between the notes.
Musicians to listen to: Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits), Andres Segovia, Merle Travis, and Joao Gilberto
This technique uses a pick, held as normal between the thumb and second finger, and your other fingers used bare. It can be great for articulating clean bass melodies as you are playing chords or melodies on your upper strings with your fingers. You can also do it in conjunction with ordinary picking methods if you have to play notes on non-adjacent strings.
Musicians to listen to: Buckethead, Brad Paisley, Albert Lee, Brian Setzer
Finger Picks and Thumb Picks
These are guitar picks that are placed on every finger (except the pinkie) and thumb by a plastic band. The guidelines are essentially the same as the ones regarding fingerpicking. The big difference is the picks offer a clearer, louder sound than regular fingerpicking. Many musicians use just the thumb pick as an alternative for a standard pick. Finger and thumb picks are generally employed by banjo players, as well as by slack key, Dobro, and slide players.
Musicians to listen to: Nils Lofgren, Chet Atkins, Robert Johnson
All these picking styles have typical applications in particular genres, however never be frightened to play around with them in whatever genre you might be playing. Each and every strategy is just one more tactic for getting at thenotes you hear in your head.
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